Owner of MNDFL, Ellie Burrows, fills us in on creating an accessible meditation studio in NYC.
RYB: How did MNDFL begin?
EB: Honestly, I was struggling with my practice and I was finding it incredibly hard to meditate in my own home. The studio arose from a deep personal need. I wanted to meditate in a space that wasn’t religious and didn’t involve a weekend-long commitment, a space I could drop into with a community that was interested in exploring meditation in a contemporary context. I loved the feeling of group meditations and I personally liked the format of boutique fitness studios—reserving a spot online or dropping in and joining class. I was volunteering for Lodro’s non-profit, the Institute for Compassionate Leadership;we had become friends and I approached him because I knew that I couldn’t build this special space on my own. I needed his expertise to support the integrity of the studio.
RYB: What is the significance behind MNDFL’s location in NYC?
EB: Lodro and I call this city home and I think we can all agree that this city is in desperate need of quiet and relaxing spaces. If I was struggling with the practice in this city, I felt others were probably struggling too. But, for those that are mystically inclined, 108 is one of the most auspicious numbers in the Eastern traditions. In Buddhism, it’s the number of beads on a mala or the number of times one recites a mantra. MNDFL’s address is 10 East 8th Street. Can’t make this stuff up!
RYB: What is the mission behind MNDFL?
EB: MNDFL exists to enable humans to feel good. We do that by offering traditional meditation techniques in an accessible manner.
RYB: Take us through a typical class experience:
EB: We offer 30 and 45 minute classes which include a short introduction, guided meditation and Q+A.
Classes are thematic, so you get to decide what would be most helpful for your day. If you want to learn a simple breath practice then MNDFL Breath is a great place to start. If you’re dealing with some strong emotions at home or in the workplace, we might recommend MNDFL Emotions. If you’d like to bring more mindfulness to your everyday existence, MNDFL Intentions is wonderful. Our full list of classes can be found here. The cool thing about our space is that the way a teacher from the Shambhala tradition teaches MNDFL Breath is very different than the way, say, a teacher from the Kundalini tradition would teach it. It’s a little like meditation university over here: you take from different professors and then decide what style you’d like to major in.
RYB: Do you feel you are able to reach a mass demographic and offer accessibility to the diverse population in NYC?
EB: Yes. Definitely. We are in service to all New Yorkers. A first class is $10 and a first month unlimited is $50.
RYB: What has most surprised you about opening MNDFL?
EB: That evenings are the busiest time at the studio. We thought we were going to be a morning business!
RYB: What has been the most inspiring aspect of opening MNDFL?
EB: When people come to MNDFL and express their gratitude that it exists.
RYB: Do you see a trend in the rise of meditation in NYC?
EB: It depends how you define trend. If you're defining it as something that moving in a direction of development and change, then yes. MNDFL takes traditional meditation, practices that have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years, and makes them accessible and relevant to everyday modern life. If you want to know if it's in fashion, then also yes, but that's because things that help humans feel better are always in fashion. Science is now proving what some traditions have known for 2500+ years and people have decided to start paying attention.
RYB: Where do you see MNDFL in 5 years?
EB: We’re four months old and we’re in the business of staying in the present moment. We're taking it one step at a time.
RYB: One at home meditation tool you can recommend for those who are not living in NYC and able to come to MNDFL?
EB: Consistency is the most important tool in a meditation practice. It’s also the most challenging aspect. We recommend you meditate daily for the same amount time, same time of day, same place even.